Pastors in Buffalo, New York, used their church building to shelter over 120 people during a blizzard that devastated the area over Christmas weekend. With the help of the community, Al and Vivian Robinson provided meals, baby formula and other resources during the historic Buffalo blizzard.
“The one thing that stands out the most was the power that Jesus Christ gave us,” Al Robinson said in a statement to ChurchLeaders. “His love compelled us to take that additional step to reach out for that one more person in the sea, that one more life, it was incredible. I don’t even know how I was able to accomplish all of this without saying it was God [who] did it all. He really did it all.”
The pastor said what happened was “the most supernatural event I’ve ever had in my entire life, but I can tell you one thing: it’s real, it happened and it saved people’s lives. Jesus was able to pull them [from] the clutches of death that happily waited for them. [God] had a different plan.”
Buffalo Blizzard Pummels Residents
At least 40 people have been reported dead as of this writing from a winter storm that hit Buffalo on Friday, Dec. 23. While the storm, known as “bomb cyclone,” covered more than half of the United States, it “unleashed its full fury on Buffalo, generating a historic lake-effect snow event with hurricane-force winds and whiteout conditions,” according to AccuWeather. Snow continued through the weekend, with some areas of Erie County, where Buffalo resides, receiving more than four feet. Most of the snow fell on the Friday and Saturday right before Christmas.
The New York Times (NYT) reports that while officials had been bracing for a winter storm, they failed to anticipate how dangerous and deadly the Buffalo blizzard would be. The unusual amount of snow, generating huge drifts, was accompanied by wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour. Wind chill temperatures were -20 degrees.
An estimated 30,000 people lost power over the weekend. Hundreds were snowed in and many were stranded in their vehicles. Emergency responders had difficulty rescuing people and were at times stranded themselves. There are stories of people perishing after being trapped in their vehicles or attempting to walk in the storm.
One woman’s mother stepped outside of her home for a moment, but did not return. Hours later, a neighbor found the mother frozen to death. He told the NYT, “It looked like she had blocks of ice on her eyelashes.”
Even when people’s power came back on, many who had taken shelter elsewhere could not go home because their pipes had frozen, leaving their houses a “disaster,” according to Pastor Al Robinson. Some residents looted grocery and convenience stores.
Al and Vivian Robinson are pastors of Spirit of Truth Urban Ministry in Buffalo. Prior to the storm, they had purchased enough food to feed themselves and their nine children for two weeks over the Christmas holiday. The couple live at their church’s campus, and when the storm hit, Vivian began posting on her Facebook page that they could help anyone who was in need of shelter. She also alerted people of others who were stranded and in need.